Have you been craving sugar lately? Sugar cravings can be hard to kick and, surprising no one at all, are one of the most common inhibitors to weight loss. Many people struggle with them. If you're currently facing them, you're in great company.
Before we get into 14 ways to stop sugar cravings, let's unpack some potential "why's" behind cravings and go over why sugar can feel so addicting:
Have you ever felt like you're addicted to sugar? That you crave it and cannot keep from consuming it? Well, that's because sugar is very much like a drug.
A study from the journal of Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews showed that “intermittent access to sugar can lead to behavioral and neurochemical changes that resemble the effects of a substance of abuse.”
Just like other drugs, sugar triggers a release of dopamine in our bodies. Dopamine is a feel-good neurotransmitter linked to the reward center in our brain. When we eat sugar, it reinforces that our body will "feel good." That's why it's common to develop sugar cravings...the reward center in our brain is programmed to chase those high feelings dopamine creates.
Just like trying to quit a drug cold turkey, abruptly removing sugar from your diet can cause withdrawal symptoms like depression, headaches, fatigue, and even muscle aches.
So, as you move towards reducing your sugar intake, keep in mind that slow and steady may help with the process.
We crave sugar for several different reasons. Here are a few in the form of questions:
1. Is Your Blood Sugar Balanced?
A majority of sugar cravings come from imbalances in blood sugar. Why? How? Well, ingesting sugar causes a spike in blood sugar and that prompts your body to release insulin to lower the sugar levels.
But, if the insulin brings the level too low, your body will crave sugary foods again. Before you know it you're stuck on a blood sugar rollercoaster.
The key to balancing blood sugar is to consume minimal sugar and enough healthy fats and protein. Also, eat regularly because skipping meals causes a drop in blood sugar.
2. Are You Stressed?
Many cravings come from our brain. Studies have shown that when you're stressed, cortisol floods your body which releases glucose in your liver, and that increases blood sugar. Fluctuations in blood sugar can cause cravings. If you are particularly stressed, see if you can find ways to reduce your stressors.
3. Are You Consuming Enough Protein and Fats?
Protein is the key ingredient to feeling full and satisfied and healthy fats provide your body with stable fuel to burn. If you find you're craving a lot of sugar, your body may actually be craving a more nutritious, balanced diet. Consider adding more protein and fats to your eating routine.
4. Did You Get Enough Sleep?
When your body is low on sleep, it may crave sugar for instant energy. The best way to manage this reason for craving sugar is to ensure you get enough sleep every night (between 7-8 hours).
Asking yourself these questions can help with creating awareness as to why you may be craving sugar. Once you understand yourself you can begin making changes.
Here are 11 ways you can stop sugar cravings...but remember, there's no "one size fits all" in the world of dieting and nutrition. Try out a few and see what works for you!
Make sure to keep the protein and fats balanced. As you read above, balance is key to curbing sugar cravings.
Studies have shown that exercising releases dopamine in the brain. Try to think of working out as a healthier way of giving your body the treat it's craving...the result is the same as consuming sugar!
Go for a walk outside, journal, FaceTime a friend, do a face mask, eat some veggies. Training your brain to seek engagement rather than fixate on sugar will help you stop your cravings.
The less sugar you eat at the start of your day, the more balanced your eating throughout the day will be. Eating high protein breakfasts help with reducing sugar cravings.
Sticking to an eating routine helps prevent drops in blood sugar which will help reduce your cravings.
Sometimes dehydration leads to craving sugar. Next time you want to eat something sweet, drink some water with lemon or lime instead.
Ginger and Turmeric help with insulin resistance (they help your body regulate how much you release...the less you release the less likely you are to crave sugar). Feel free to incorporate these foods into lattes and smoothies.
If you can distract and/or distance yourself from your sugar craving, it may pass. You can look to your list of things to do other than eating sugar for inspiration.
Journaling about why we may be craving sugar can help our brain make a healthier, more logical choice in the present moment. See if you can track your sugar cravings to identify any patterns. This will help with changing your habits over time.
If you find yourself binging on sugary foods, call or text a friend who can offer support and encourage you along your sugar-reducing diet journey.
When you catch yourself craving sugar lick a lime or a lemon. Or consumer something else that's sour. The sourness will stimulate your tasted buds while distracting your brain from the fact that you! want! sugar! now!
Any blend of fruits (with no added sugar) will satisfy all the sugar cravings you have. Smoothies are also an excellent way to get in all the servings of fruits you need...you can even add in some spinach, kale, ginger, or turmeric, for added nutrients.
If your cravings are extra strong, look to natural fruits and veggies to get your fix. Veggies like squash and sweet potatoes. Fruits like bananas, pineapple, berries, coconuts, and dates.
Overcoming sugar cravings takes practice and practice. It will likely take time for your body and mind to learn how to navigate sugar cravings. Stick with it. You're on your way already just by reading this!
If you feel as though sugar is currently controlling your body and brain, get ready to push through a tough first few days of stopping your sugar cravings. You will likely have some withdrawal symptoms but there is good news: you're a warrior and you can do anything. Including working towards stopping your sugar cravings.
Sugar cravings are nothing to be ashamed of. They're more of something to be aware of so you can give your body what it needs to feel happy and healthy. If you're planning on reducing your sugar cravings, remember to take it one day at a time.
If you ever need some extra motivation to not eat sugar, you can post in the group chat. Keep in mind that it's okay to over-consume sugar (and any kind of food) every now and then. Try not to be so hard on yourself.
Keep listening to your body and doing what makes you feel energized and strong . And remember, even on the days where you feel tired or sad...you're building strength on those days too. The path you're on is the perfect one because it's the one you're on. Stay on it warrior.
If you've been thinking of joining Warriors, now is the perfect time.